David Gerbi is a 56-year-old psychoanalyst, but to Libyan rebels he was the “revolutionary Jew.” He returned to his homeland after 44 years in exile to help oust Moammar Gadhafi, and to take on what may be an even more challenging mission.

That job began Sunday, when he took a sledgehammer to a concrete wall. Behind it: the door to Tripoli’s crumbling main synagogue, unused since Gadhafi expelled Libya’s small Jewish community early in his decades-long rule.

Gerbi knocked down the wall, said a prayer and cried.

“What Qaddafi tried to do is to eliminate the memory of us. He tried to eliminate the amazing language. He tried to eliminate the religion of the Jewish people,” said Gerbi, whose family fled to Italy when he was 12. “I want bring our legacy back, I want to give a chance to the Jewish of Libya to come back.”

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